Political goals of Delhi ‘riots’ «

Political goals of Delhi ‘riots’

The mayhem, killing, arson, and violence in Delhi have apparently ended. But thousands are marooned, more than 40 dead, some 300 maimed and injured, and hundreds of homes and shops are burnt. While there are unfortunate deaths and injuries of both Hindu born and Muslim born victims, the losses of life and property are more than 90% in the case of the minority community. The victims largely are poor and those whose fall back options in a crisis are minimal. The hate-mongering ‘Goli maaro…’ slogans are still going on just now in other unaffected parts of Delhi as well.
The Delhi riots were a planned attempt to change the discourse & narrative of the nation’s politics. It was a sinister design, an evil & sadly successful attempt to tarnish & drag the entire opposition in one fold. BJP lost Delhi badly, lost Maharashtra to an unprecedented anti-BJP alliance of others, lost Jharkhand summarily, and managed to hold on to Haryana with its lifeline in the hands of the youngest party in that state. The scenario for the ruling party at the center is grave as it goes for high-stakes Bihar and Bengal polls later this year and the next. Then UP is in 2022.
Now, look at the things one by one.
The BJP lost Delhi Assembly elections even after attempting all sorts of hyper-polarisation, using the highest manpower and resources in any state in recent times, & people voted for AAP & development. Also, BJP lost Jharkhand by a huge margin even the state saw maximum attacks on Muslims, terms of lynching. It cannot afford to let go of the situation as this tide will next hit Bihar then.
There are three things to look at:
First, the location: NE Delhi is a highly migrated population settlement from Bihar & UP, both states going to elections this year & in 2 years, respectively. The tensions will largely reverberate in the home states of the residents of NE Delhi.
With Kanhaiya Kumar’s rallies pulling large crowds, and Prashant Kishor up against the regime’s love of Godse, leaving BJP-JDU alliance on the hot-seat while replying to the questions related to development & work done on the ground in Bihar, the scenario is becoming challenging for the rulers in Bihar. They know that Prashant knows ins & outs of Bihar, the caste equations & as PK is in constant touch with opposition parties, it will lead to a tough situation in Bihar where Yadavs/Muslims and some of the Dalits might stand rock solid against NDA alliance. A Nitish Kumar facing ground heat with anti-incumbency of 15 years, also stuck in between the crossfire of Muslims Vs BJP, things might not the same this time. Further, Nitish Kumar’s association may not also be taken for granted as is seen in his stand on CAA-NRC-NPR and a recent resolution in the Bihar Assembly against NRC in which opposition and Nitish Kumar were on the same side against bewildered BJP.
So, changing the discourse of national politics is necessary for BJP.
Second, the Trump visit scenario this time. Trump is a known Islamophobe. The Police were found by many not to have even responded to the crisis or were seen hand in gloves with the rioters. Nothing was stopping the authorities to bring the District under Curfew or even containing the riots when it started on the first day unless it was pre-planned mayhem with protection from the top to not do so. Though it is not clear why the mayhem erupted even when Trump was here, there are many theories: that entire security and cabinet was busy with Trump and hence a planned attack would have maximum desired impact, that Amit Shah as Home Minister was flexing his muscles through his forces vis-a-vis the PMO (which later sent Doval to contain), and that it was done than to keep PM’s image clean being involved elsewhere.
Third and the most wicked one is the following.
The BJP lost two states back to back. People are actually talking about development, comparing between the AAP model in Delhi, Soren plan for Jharkhand & the work done by the Union government in the last 5 years, after Delhi and Jharkhand verdicts. The BJP doesn’t have any report card, while the economy is in tatters and the CAA/NRC ghost is haunting them back and forth while every attempt to shun down Shaheen Bagh had failed. The young are getting disenchanted & the old supporters are questioning those in power. This is where the dots are getting connected.
The answer to all of these uncertain political discourse was to bring back the political conversation around the best-known domain of the ruling BJP, that of communal divide Hindu-Muslim conflict, and hence the Delhi ‘Riots’.
The whole media & political conversation ecosystem across the nation is back to communal twists and issues, as to how those who oppose a government law are anti-nationals, just in 3-day riots. The divide is wide open again. Hindus were in a crisis in Delhi, and the Hindus will be in a crisis across Bihar, Bengal, and UP. The Hindu-Muslim will be wider till we head to the elections lest Bihar and UP vote on caste-lines and Bengal votes on Mamata’s grassroots network and her government work.
The BJP is going to gain, hands down. They knew it very well. So they let it happen for three days and there was a pin-drop silence maintained by all of their leaders for three consecutive days of mayhem!
The nation is back to the communal pitch where BJP knows how to score a double hundred furthermore. This is further proven by the fact that no arrests have been made of those who are giving divisive slogans and the judge who wanted FIR against them is shunted out of Delhi overnight.
Man proposes God disposes.
The only way to fail this strategy is to bring back economic decline and governance issues to the forefront, beginning with Bihar. The entire opposition (RJD included) must come together, draw up a Bihar development plan, sort out partnership issues, focus on poor governance of the state and the centre, and a collective strategy to take on the NDA. Making CAA-NRC the focus of opposition campaign shall be Advantage BJP just ‘Chowkidaar Chor Hai’ in the context of Rafael deal actually boomeranged on Congress in LokSabha polls. Focus on failed economic front and its NYAY plan would have helped Congress better one being the anti theme and the other positive theme of their messaging.
United opposition asking questions of economic decline and giving an alternative perspective and plan for Bihar early into the campaign with Manifesto and Development Dialogues & Guarantees, and opposing CAA-NRC in the footnote, is the best bet to defeat the communal narrative. However, a clear CM face too (potential landmine issue for the Tejaswi Yadav led RJD if he is not accepted as the combined opposition face) will be necessary as NDA has noted that it will contest with Nitish Kumar as the CM face.
BJP has taken a calculated risk. The Opposition has to prove it is game through quick and deft stands and steps. And while they do, the poor have lost their lives, limbs, homes, and shops in Delhi. A large number of them indeed.
The writer is a known columnist and television debater, and an academic of repute.